The Wolf Pack broke their 3-game losing streak tonight by defeating the Norfolk Admirals 4-2, despite their best attempts to give the game away with a 3rd period parade to the penalty box. Lucky for them, the Admirals are 2nd to last in the AHL and were utterly unable to cash in on the opportunities.
The Pack got the scoring started early in the 1st with two quick goals, both courtesy of the Pack’s brand new first line of Byers – Anisimov – Callahan (who would finish with 3 of the team’s 4 goals). The first was a slapper from the right point from Taylor with both Anisimov and Byers screening the goalie. The puck deflected off Byers’ butt right in front of Admiral’s goalie Marc Denis, who didn’t stand a chance. Pack play-by-play man Bob Crawford speculated that Anisimov also may have tipped it on the way in, but he wasn’t given credit on the score sheet. The second was a similar play, this time a point shot from the left point from Corey Potter, again with Anisimov and Byers in the lane screening Denis. On the scoresheet it was credited to Potter, though again Crawford suggest Anisimov might have tipped it, and I’m more inclined to agree with him on this one. Callahan and Byers picked up the assists. The goals came within 33 seconds of one another, both before the 4 minute mark of the period. Jessiman and Jancevski squared off shortly after, with Jessiman taking the easy decision — Jancevski was never even in this one.
The 3rd Pack goal came just inside of the halfway mark of the period, once again a shot from the point, but a different cast of characters setting the screen in front. Hutchinson got the goal, but had Pyatt crashing the net and setting the screen, and possibly getting a stick on it. Six-foot-three Radek Smolenak challenged short but stout Jordon Owens to a fight 11 seconds later, and won easily. The first act of the penalty parade started shortly after when Byers took an offensive-zone holding penalty, which Potter followed up with a cross-checing penalty 45 seconds later, giving the Admirals a 5-on-3 on which they scored. Ouelette took a penalty to close out the first, whch carried to the 2nd, but the Pack were able to kill it off.
In the 2nd it was Norfolk who took the penalties early, allowing Callahan to get his 1st of the season off a real nice passing play from Byers and Anisimov on the power play. Anisimov carried it into the zone and threaded a nice pass through a defender to Byers in the right circle. Byers drew the defender to him before pushing a nice backhand pass through to Callahan, who was all alone in the left circle. Callahan took his time and fired a perfectly-placed wrist shot high, glove side on Denis. Norfolk got their 2nd shortly after the 12 minute mark when a Pack turnover in the neutral zone (maybe Ouelette? maybe Korpikoski? not really sure) lead to a 3-on-1 with only Baranka, playing in his first game since December 28th, back. Norfolk’s Karl Stewart got the pass around him to Rob Klinkhammer who was all alone down low on Montoya, who didn’t have a chance. Norfolk gave the Pack a number of power play opportunities through the 2nd, but the Pack were unable to convert on any of them.
The 3rd period saw the Pack give Norfolk 6 consecutive power plays, including a full 2 minutes of 5-on-3 when Parenteau took an unsportsmanlike conduct call after arguing a penalty call against Pock. They have the Admirals ineffectiveness to thank as much as their own penalty killing that it didn’t end up a much closer game than it was.
Montoya had to make a number of key saves, and came back strong after an extremely poor performance last Friday saw him lose the start against Lowell on Saturday. A couple of his most impressive saves came early in the game, and were a matter of him recovering for his own miscues (one misplaying the puck behind the net and having to make a sliding save coming back out front from behind the net, the other a sprawling glove save as he stretched across the crease to stop a Norfolk player who was in alone after his poke check attempt missed.)
Despite getting on the board with an assist in the first, Callahan started a little tentatively, and didn’t have the puck on his stick nearly as much as Byers and Anisimov, but he found his groove by the second and was engaged and involved and skating hard and generating chances. That top line got a TON of ice time, at even strength and on the PP, and Callahan also spent time on the PK with Byers.
1. Byers (6) (Taylor, Baranka) 3:21
1. Potter (2) (Callahan, Byers) 3:54
1. Hutchinson (6) (Potter, Parenteau) 9:39
2. Callahan (1) (Byers, Anisimov) (PP) 4:21
Byers – Anisimov – Callahan
Parenteau – Pyatt – Bourret
Korpikoski – Ouelette – Jessiman
Dupont – Owens
Baranka – Taylor
Hutchinson – Potter
Pock – Sauer
Montoya / Wiikman
1. Dane Byers
2. Ryan Callahan
3. Justin Keller
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